life curation

Operation Birthday Blowout Was A Success!

I can say, with no doubt in my mind, that my birthday blowout was a success! I got to see Janet Jackson perform, I went to two museums I’ve never visited before, I spent time with friends, I made some new friends, AND I got to try some new restaurants while I was away.

Then, the day after I got home, I was a bridesmaid in a wedding and I went to a family reunion. It’s been a very busy past few days! I’ll admit, though, that I’m loving every minute of it. It’s been a while since I’ve had a whirlwind (long) weekend.

I’m still working on a few of my side projects related to this blog and life in general, so I’m going to keep this post short and save my energy. I’ll share a few photos that will be part of future posts in the next few days. Also, I’m still thinking of a special way to commemorate this blog’s 1 year anniversary . . . I have something in mind but I’m open to suggestions! Feel free to let me know how we should celebrate this first year of Bronze Butterfly!

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En route to the wedding

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Brunching in Raleigh

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Seeing my spiritual mother, Janet Jackson

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A visit to Nasher Museum

art · travel

Flashback to Kansas City, Pt. 1 – 18th and Vine

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18th and Bovine by Jeff DeRousse, located near 18th and Vine

When I’m in Raleigh in a few weeks, I’ll be checking out as many art museums, galleries and fine restaurants as I can. But while I’m looking at some of Raleigh’s attractions, I began to reminisce about my first “big” trip away from home.

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Statue of Charlie Parker near 18th and Vine

Nine years ago, I traveled to Kansas City, MO and instantly fell in love. This city reminds me of my hometown but it had a lot of features that I found enchanting. Kansas City has more operating fountains than any city outside of Rome, Italy. I also recall the excellent museums, fun club scene, and rich musical history. I’m going to share some of the pictures from that trip, taken on my (awful) BlackBerry Pearl. Hey, it was the best I could do at the time!

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18th and Vine is an intersection within Kansas City that used to be a hub for Black music and culture. Jazz legend Charlie Parker grew up in this area. While there, I visited the American Jazz Museum, a glorious tribute to the history of jazz music. I was (still am!) a huge fan of Ella Fitzgerald, so this museum was a treat. Unfortunately, the museum didn’t allow photography, so I have no pictures of the exhibits.

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Front of the museum

The museum is in the heart of what used to be the epicenter of vibrant Black creatives. The area used to be thriving and full of shops, bars, and jazz clubs. It was disheartening to hear how the museum is going through financial trials and may temporarily close in order to reorganize.

Artwork near the museum: cutouts made out of mirrored material. Gorgeous to behold, impossible to photograph

This area is magical. You can feel the history all around you. I pray that the museum can turn things around and come back stronger than ever. 

I’ll share more from my Kansas City trip in the next few weeks. Until then, enjoy!

words of wisdom

Words of Wisdom: Judy Garland

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One of my favorite singers of all time was Judy Garland. Like most people, I got my first introduction to Garland when I saw “The Wizard of Oz” but as an adult, I got acquainted with her other songs, as well as her life story.

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This petite powerhouse felt with feeling ugly, awkward, and unloved. She was undoubtedly talented but never happy and secure in who she was. That unhappiness bled through her lyrics, making many of her songs heartbreakingly sad. But there is beauty in everything, including sadness. Even in her most painful songs, there is still so much elegance, warmth, and passion: she took heartbreak and turned it into art.

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Garland had such naturalness when she sang: it was never forced or overwrought. I’m sure it was quite a sight to see her perform live, with such an enormous voice coming out of such a tiny woman (only 4’11”!). Recordings of her voice give me shivers now: can you imagine what it was like to hear her live?

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It’s difficult to listen to her recordings and to not be moved by them. I only wish she could have known how beautiful, special and loved she was. I hear her singing and I wish I could have hugged her and reassured her of her immeasurable value. She deserved better, and her tragic death at the age of 47 is a reminder to continue to love and affirm those around us.

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Judy Garland had some poignant musings, and I’m honored to share a few of them with you all today. I hope that Judy’s words move and inspire you. Take care, and talk to you all tomorrow.

(photos courtesy Pinterest, StatusMind, AZQuotes and QuotePrism)

festivals

Vive La Festival!

This is my favorite time of year, because when it’s hot, people want to get outside and do fun things. That being said, I’m eager to check out the festivals occurring in Virginia and Washington, DC over the next several weeks.

I’m narrowing down my list of festival possibilities based on when I’ll be out of town and when I’ll have enough time and energy to attend. Surprisingly, the festival that is currently ranking highest on my “must do” list is the Virginia State Peach Festival. I’m usually not a huge fan of produce festivals (heat + sweet fruits = lots of insects) but I adore peaches and the opportunity to try freshly grown, local peaches is too tempting to pass up.

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Mmm, peaches

The only downside is that the event occurs on Friday, August 17, in southwest Virginia, which means I’d have to take time off from work in order to attend (it’s a substantial drive from my home to Stuart, VA). But who knows – maybe things will come together in my favor. I’m open to all of the possibilities!

I’m also thinking about the Seawall Art Show in Portsmouth, VA. The drive is a lot shorter, and the event occurs on the weekend (August 25 and 26). I haven’t been to an art show in years, so I’m sure I’d enjoy it. It’s very likely I’ll attend this event, and if I go, you all know that I will share info about it here on this blog.

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I’m excited to check out the art in Portsmouth

There are two festivals in Richmond that I may check out – but they occur on the same weekend. The Filipino Festival (August 10 and 11) and the Richmond Jazz Festival (August 9 – 12) are two very different events but will give a fresh injection of culture into Richmond for the weekend. Who knows – maybe I’ll be able to check out both events!

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Richmond Jazz Fest is coming up soon!

Any upcoming cool festivals where you are? Let me know in the comments below!

life curation · music

Dads Matter

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Happy Sunday, everyone! Today is Father’s Day in the United States, and I’m fortunate to have experienced the love of two fathers: my biological dad and my stepdad. Instead of saying to you, ‘Go love on your dad”, I want to share what both of the fathers in my life meant to me.

My biological dad and I haven’t always been close, though there’s always been a lot of love between us. He is a better parent of adults than young children, and I can respect and enjoy that: after all, I’ll spend more of my life as an adult than I did as a child! He and my mom had a tense relationship for many years, and now I’m glad to say that they have grown to the point of having a friendship. It took a lot of years, but I love that there is no animosity between them. They married in the 1970s, so I often associate them with Earth, Wind and Fire. Here’s a song that I imagine that they may have danced to while they were dating.

My stepdad passed in 2012, and I’ll cherish the last conversation I had with him. He was very ill – in hospice care – and when I asked how he was feeling, he simply said, “I’m not doing too well, but I’m okay. How are you?” It still breaks my heart to think that he wanted to know how I was doing while he was slowly slipping away from us. I’ll also think fondly of how we would occasionally sneak out and get milkshakes from McDonald’s and chili cheese hot dogs from 7 Eleven (this was before I started eating healthier!) One of the last times we hung out, he said he was craving a milkshake, so we made a special stop just to soothe his craving. I miss him every day, but I’m happy that he left me some awesome memories. Here’s a song that he absolutely loved: I still can’t listen to it all the way through without breaking down into tears.

Those are a couple of my Father’s Day memories. Do you all have any memories of your father/father figures that you want to share? Please post them in comments below: I’d love to read them.

music

Learn More About Opera

I’ve got another FutureLearn course for you all to check out! Several years back, I took a Introduction to Classical Music course on Coursera, and I’ve desired more opportunities to learn about classical music ever since. However, there haven’t been too many courses that fit the bill, until I saw the “Inside Opera” course available on FutureLearn.

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The course will dive into defining opera, discussing the onstage and backstage activities, and how it factors into the world around us.

This opera course starts June 4. I hope that you take some time to check it out!

life curation

A Mother’s Love

Maternal Caress by Mary Cassatt (1896), on display at the Philadelphia Museum of Art

Mothers are so special. There’s not a lot to say, other than this: make sure to appreciate your mother (or the mother figures) in your life. Cherish the women that pour into you, and uphold a higher vision of you than you could ever imagine for yourself.

The Marquise de Pezay and the Marquise Rouge with her sons Alexis and Adrien by Elizabeth Louise Vigee Le Brun (1787), on display at the National Gallery of Art

Here are a few touching portraits of mothers that I have seen over the past week, as well as thoughts on motherhood from a few famous women. I’m going to link my post to Phylicia Rashad’s thoughts on motherhood here. In this post, I’ll share more thoughts from Maya Angelou (you can read my previous post about her here).